Why shots for children matter

As the Indian government expands vaccination, inoculating children is key to warding off the coronavirus threat
The government’s decision comes months after several countries with robust scientific institutions allowed vaccinations for children (HTPhoto) PREMIUM
The government’s decision comes months after several countries with robust scientific institutions allowed vaccinations for children (HTPhoto)
Updated on Dec 27, 2021 09:23 PM IST
Copy Link
ByHT Editorial

India has decided to expand its coronavirus vaccine drive as it heads into the new year. Health care and frontline workers and people older than 60 with certain health conditions can take boosters, or precaution doses, and children above the age of 15 will at last be covered. This is at a time of significant uncertainty due to the Omicron variant. Cities such as Delhi and Mumbai — the two most popular hubs for international arrivals — are reporting a sustained increase in Covid-19 cases, possibly signalling community transmission. The next few months will be a test for how durable India’s immune reserves are. At least two-thirds of the adult population is estimated to have been exposed to Covid-19 after the second wave and a large part has since been covered with vaccines. The durability of the immunocapital, especially when faced with a highly resistant variant such as Omicron, will be key to India’s third wave outcomes, even if the variant seems less severe than Delta.

While attention has naturally been on booster doses for adults, the focus on children needs to be equally strong. The government’s decision comes months after several countries with robust scientific institutions allowed vaccinations for children. The pandemic has taken an invisible toll on the young, who have lost out on the learning and social interactions crucial for their formative years. They are also the largest group that is unvaccinated. While their innate immunity advantage offers some reassurance, a variant as highly transmissible as Omicron can lead to a large number of infections in them. Even a minuscule proportion of severe cases in a very large cohort could be worrying.

There are specific things that now need to be kept in mind. First, the doses for children will initially be of Covaxin. A second one, ZyCoV-D, the world’s first DNA vaccine, is expected later, although it is yet to be given to adults. India will need to closely monitor how these perform. Second, the government will also need to expeditiously take decisions on Serum Institute of India’s Covovax and Biological E’s Corbevax — both use a technology commonly used for paediatric immunisation. Third, a decision must be made soon on children younger than 15 years and for booster doses to school and college staff. There is adequate scientific evidence for it already. Over the next months, the government will need to move quickly on vaccinations to adequately follow through on its decisions that open the doors to boosters and shots for children.

Enjoy unlimited digital access with HT Premium

Get flat 50% off on annual subscriptions
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Topics
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, January 26, 2022